Gerardo De Cosio
The European Union, along with the Pan American Health Organization, has teamed up with the Ministry of Health to provide infrastructure and training that would improve maternal as well as neonatal health. Reducing neonatal mortality is a current national concern since the May deaths of thirteen newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit of the K.H.M.H. The project is called, “Strengthening of Critical Maternal and Neonatal Services in Belize.” The five point six million dollar project has become a reality with the E.U.’s four point two million; PAHO’s two hundred and twenty thousand and the Ministry of Health’s commitment one point two million dollars. The project’s importance for the E.U. stemmed from its commitment to help nations such as Belize fulfill their millennium development goals. Since the media was not invited to the event, the video of the signing was provided courtesy of the government press office.
Gerardo De Cosio, PAHO Representative, Belize
“I am really also excited about the name of this agreement that we are going to sign and it is called, “Collaborative Agreement.” And indeed the development of the whole project has been a collaborative development between the European Union, the Ministry of Health and PAHO. We all have worked together to put together all the pieces.”
Jesus Bagueña, Head of Operations, E.U. to Belize
“The project will include the quality of and the access to health services and infrastructure for mothers and children under five years old with the key goal of preventing maternal and neonatal mortality. Critical maternal and neonatal services in the country will be strengthen with the result of helping the Ministry of Health in reducing still birth and neonatal mortality by one-third and offer anti-natal coverage to at least ninety-five percent of the population. With the provision of neonatal incubator transpiration, neonates will also have access to better conditions than in the transfer from district hospitals to the national referral hospital, the K.H.M.H. Furthermore, this hospital together with three community and three regional hospitals will be provided with medical equipment for maternal and neonatal care. PAHO will deliver training to improve the skills of biomedical technicians and emergency reponse team providing ambulance services for at risk or ill neonates. Health personnel will be trained to secure and ensure the stability of newborn vitals in the first moments of life and four pediatricians will be specifically trained as instructors with a certification for neonatal resuscitation program. Infection control plans in all hospitals dedicated to maternal and newborn care will be implemented under the project benefitting all mothers and infants, utilizing institutional facilities and prenatal care and neonatal care will be developed using guides from PAHO and other united nation agencies. A new national vaccine storage facility will also be built on the site of the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan. And laboratory services as well as storage facilities for blood products will be provided at three district hospitals. The improved vaccine storage facilities will ensure the lifetime of the cold chambers; offers better production in case of natural disaster and reduce the risk of vaccine potency loss due to unsafe condition of the building.”
Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health
“Doctors Espada and John Ferguson from the E.U. have been instrumental with the support of the staff of your E.U. office in Belize in moving this project for today. The launch of this project really is an exciting time for us because we see that there is an opportunity to implement significant improvements in these areas.”